Further south, 10 kms from Mapusa in Bardez taluka, across the wide Chapora river, is the magnificent construction. The climb up to the bastion is somewhat steep and slippery, but eminently worthwhile.
Originally constructed by Sultan Adil Shah of Bijapur, Chapora was destroyed and rebuilt by the Portuguese in – evidence of its Islamic antecedents can be seen in the form of tombstones on the southern side of the hill. The views from its ramparts are breathtaking, encompassing the river and the sea, as well as the beaches of Anjuna, Vagator and Morjim.
Although some tunnels intended for supplies and secret, underground emergency escape routes are still discernable, the forts’s restless history has ensured that it is quite ruined. Bardez was frequently under attack even at the height of Portuguese domination, and in 1684 the fort succumbed to the Maratha forces of Sambhaji, who withdrew in 1717 only to attack and win, once again in 1739.
In 1741, however the Portuguese launched a successful counter attack and won both Chapora as well as Pernem taluka. By this time the former Portuguese glory was spiraling into a rapid decline, and Chapora was eventually abandoned in 1892.
The site remains beautiful and evocative, haunted by past valour. The dark red earth stretching into azure waters has the allure of a painting and fittingly, perhaps, Chapora was used as a location for the 2001 Bollywood blockbuster, Dil Chahta Hai.